Terror attacks

Indonesian arrested in S. Korea for terror links

A Yonhap News TV grab shows the Indonesian overstayer leaving a Seoul court yesterday. The terror suspect, 32, was found to have a bowie knife and books on Islamist fundamentalism.
A Yonhap News TV grab shows the Indonesian overstayer leaving a Seoul court yesterday. The terror suspect, 32, was found to have a bowie knife and books on Islamist fundamentalism.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

South Korean police have arrested an Indonesian overstayer with suspected links to a terrorist group as an intelligence report revealed that 10 Koreans had tried to contact the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The news, coming a week after the Paris attacks that killed more than 120, heightened concerns about a possible terrorist strike in South Korea. The country has a very small Muslim community of 135,000, which is less than 0.3 per cent of the population.

Police said on Wednesday they had arrested the 32-year-old Indonesian in his house in South Chung-cheong province for violating immigration laws and forging his passport. But it was his suspected links to Al Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda offshoot behind murders and decapitations in Syria, that aroused concern.

The police said he had, in April, uploaded on social media a video of himself waving the group's flag. Last month, he added a photo of himself wearing a cap bearing the group's logo, taken at Gyeongbok palace, a tourist spot. The man was also found to have a bowie knife and books on Islamist fundamentalism.

Separately, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) revealed in a parliamentary report that 10 Koreans had tried to contact ISIS to show their support for the group, which has claimed responsibility for last Friday's attacks in Paris.

Two Koreans were also arrested recently for attempting to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS. In February, an 18-year-old school dropout became the first known Korean to join ISIS.

An NIS official said the terrorist risk in South Korea has increased, partly due to growing interest in ISIS among young South Koreans.

Both the ruling Saenuri party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy agreed on Tuesday to review five pending anti-terrorism Bills soon, but could not agree on which agency should oversee the efforts.

Meanwhile, the local media has reported growing anti-Muslim sentiments, such as calls on social media to kick Muslims out. Activists have voiced concern Muslims could be wrongly accused of terror activities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Indonesian arrested in S. Korea for terror links'. Print Edition | Subscribe